Organic Gardening Advice: Our Complete Garden Know-How Series

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Adobe Stock/DavidFuentes

Being a lifelong gardener means being a lifelong learner — and the learning process can be one of the most exciting aspects of growing your own food. Each year, you’ll build your knowledge bank based on experience and the gardening advice of others, and then apply new techniques as you enjoy bigger and better harvests.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we have 40-plus-year tradition of arming gardeners with practical, straightforward organic gardening advice, and in recent years, much of this advice has been relayed via our popular Garden Know-How department. Written by expert gardener and award-winning writer Barbara Pleasant, this series brings you info on everything from composting and watering basics to more specific topics such as attracting native bees and gardening with chickens. This is your one-stop page for organic gardening essentials.

13 Ways to Beat the Heat

Learn how to protect your crops from the sun’s relentless radiation, plus get simple late-summer techniques for a bountiful fall harvest.

Attract Native Bees to Your Garden

Native bees will be buzzing in your garden thanks to insect hotels, bee-friendly plants and more.

Best Garden Tools for Big Plots and Large Harvests

Discover the best garden tools for running a small-scale farm, including walk-behind tractors and their implements, hand tools of European design and the modern wheel hoe.

Best Tips for Starting Seeds Indoors

Save money on vegetable seedlings and grow superior varieties of vegetables by starting seeds indoors.

Biochar for Better Soil

By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve your garden soil. Biochar enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer.

Building Garden Soil With Wood Mulch

By providing food for fungi, wood mulch builds garden soil by increasing levels of organic matter in your garden beds.

Care and Cultivation of Permanent Garden Beds

Choose permanent garden beds and pathways to provide secure habitat for the dynamic soil food web that sustains your crops.

Chickens in the Garden

Are you interested in gardening with chickens? Your backyard flock could be the best source of meat, eggs and homemade fertilizer around. Learn how to “recoop” much of your birds’ expenses by putting chicken manure fertilizer to use in your organic garden.

Companion Planting With Vegetables and Flowers

When growing organic vegetables, fruits and flowers, the right plant combos will save space and provide weed and pest control.

Container Gardening With Vegetables and Herbs

If you don’t have a good garden spot in your yard, why not grow some vegetables and herbs using container gardening?

Cover Crops

Cover crops solar-charge your soil and improve soil nutrients. Here is what you need to know about cover crop planting methods and reliable cover crop options for your region.

Crop Rotation

You can increase soil fertility in your garden soils and cut down on plant disease by rotating the vegetables in your garden plots on a three-year crop rotation cycle.

Disease Prevention Basics

You can prevent many potential garden diseases by using these strategies: wide spacing and trellises, mulching and applying aged compost.

Extend Your Growing Season

Learning a few season extension techniques can help you start your garden up to six weeks earlier and enjoy fresh food sooner.

Free, Homemade Liquid Fertilizers

Homemade liquid fertilizers made from free, natural ingredients — such as grass clippings, seaweed, chicken manure and human urine — can give your plants the quick boost of nutrients they need to grow stronger and be more productive.

Gardening for Keeps

Wide corridors, together with permanent garden beds and paths, are your best options for an efficient and productive food garden.

Get the Most From Vegetable Garden Mulches

Mulches will conserve moisture, prevent weeds, reduce diseases and increase your yields. Plus, inexpensive organic mulches, such as grass clippings and fallen leaves, will work wonders on your veggie patch.

Hard-Working Garden Hoes

Knowing the best tools to use is a key part of garden know-how. From the stirrup hoe to the Winged Weeder, choose the right garden hoes for nearly effortless weed control.

How to Make Your Own Potting Soil

You can save money by using your own soil and compost to make potting mixes your plants will love.

ID and Prevent 6 Common Tomato Diseases

Learn how to spot the symptoms of several tomato diseases, including early blight, late blight and nematodes, and adopt strategies to keep your plants healthy.

Install the Best Garden Fences

When you protect your garden with a critter-proof fence, you can love the wild things, sleep peacefully at night and grow a great garden.

Instant No-Dig Garden Beds

Need some gardening advice for how to get set up quickly? You can make new garden beds fast with no digging or tilling by using bags of topsoil.

Keeping Up With Your Summer Garden

Here are 35 garden management tips to help you handle pest control, weeding, and other peak-summer garden chores.

Make a Mini-Greenhouse With Low Tunnels

Learn how to make an easy, affordable mini-greenhouse using row covers and low tunnels for season extension and natural pest control.

Plant Propagation

Grow plants fast with these easy, traditional and low-tech plant propagation techniques.

Self-Seeding Crops You’ll Never Need to Replant

Some crop plants are self-seeding. With a bit of light management each generation can be coaxed into providing seeds season after season.

Soil Improvement Tips

Your soil improvement efforts will be more effective if you think of garden soil as a living web of microorganisms, not an input-output system.

Vertical Gardening Techniques for Maximum Returns

Growing your own food can be more fun if you grow UP. You can improve yield, grow bigger vegetables, and make more efficient use of growing space through vertical gardening.

Wise Watering

Organic mulches and the right watering equipment will keep your crops healthy and your yields abundant.

Your Garden’s Soil pH Matters

Learn what causes acidic soil and alkaline soil, plus how to apply the results of a soil pH test in your organic garden.

Our gardening resources extend far beyond these Garden Know-How guides. Check our Organic Gardening page for season-appropriate organic gardening advice and our Crops at a Glance Guide for crop-specific advice. For even more help growing organic vegetables and fruits — including help with knowing when to plant based on your ZIP code, how many plants will fit in a given space, and more — try our popular Vegetable Garden Planner program. Happy growing!

Illustrations By Elayne Sears

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